BY SCOTT HADDOW
Laurentian University women's basketball player Darrah Bumstead is another hidden gem the program has unleashed on the OUA.
Bumstead entered the season as a relative unknown rookie looking to make her mark in the tough league. And what a mark she made, playing a ton of minutes with the Lady Vees, making the OUA Rookie Team and putting on a show all season by captivating fans with her tenacity and hard work.
For head coach Mike Clarke, landing Bumstead in the off-season was a major coup and he sees nothing but a bright future ahead for Bumstead, a
future much like the one of current third-year teammate Cassandra Carpenter, who is a OUA leading scorer and all-star.
"Her play this year was spectacular," said the bench boss. "She was by far the best rookie forward in the OUA and her numbers would be better if she wasn't playing alongside a forward as dominating as Cassandra. I think she will be an OUA all-star multiple times in her career. Darrah's a great success story for our program. It's a real challenge attracting southern Ontario kids (Darrah is from Waterloo) to Sudbury, but she fits in perfectly. She isn't just a quality basketball recruit; she's an excellent student. You will never meet a nicer, more humble person."
Bumstead relished every second of her season.
"Making the rookie team was an honour," said the six-foot forward. "I thought it was a great season. The competition forced me to step up my game
and I enjoyed playing at a faster pace and a much more physical game. Although our team struggled and our inexperience showed through a bit, I think we improved as a team...And collectively, we're excited and pumped for next season."
Bumstead made a huge impact defensively, averaging 27 minutes and seven rebounds a game, which put her ninth overall in the OUA. She also led Laurentian in blocks with 32, which was fourth overall.
Listening to coaches has made Bumstead into the player she is today.
"Throughout high school, shot blocking and rebounding we're definitely the two key components of my game," said the Waterloo native. " At every camp I went to, I was told that those two things and defense were what it took to play university basketball so that was what I concentrated on improving. Because of this, my offensive game is not as strong as my defensive, so when I got to LU I worked hard to contribute as much as possible and the best contributions I can offer are through shot blocking and rebounding."
Clarke was impressed with Bumstead's talents all season.
"She's an incredible rebounder and shot blocker," said Clarke. "It's outstanding on two levels. One, she's only a rookie. Two, it's difficult to average that many rebounds playing with Cassandra, who was second in the OUA and third in the CIS. Darrah was a major reason we ranked second in the CIS in rebounding as a team. She is driven, durable and never complains or feels sorry for herself. I think she is a potential All-Canadian. She has the potential to become one of the top defensive players in the country."
The 2005-06 season was a learning experience for Bumstead.
"I got a good idea of my potential," said the forward. "I learned how much hard work and training can improve your game and it has really inspired me to work even harder over the summer and come back as the best player I can be."
The Lady Vees made a quick exit in the playoffs, losing to Ottawa in the early rounds. Bumstead wants to see Laurentian come back stronger than ever for 2006-07.
"I hope as team we take it in stride and learn from the loss," said the kinesiology student. "I hope we continue the same momentum we've been building all year and use the experience as fuel over the summer to come back next season with confidence and a strong desire to play as hard as we can."